I’m a 48-year-old married mom who’s having less sex but turns out, it’s the best kind I’ve ever had.
By Melissa Miles McCarter — Written on Mar 30, 2023
Photo: Gladskikh Tatiana / Shutterstock
“I miss this,” my husband said.
Thinking he meant sex, I bristled a little.
“Crook time,” he said. He meant cuddling or laying in the crook of his arm. I relaxed, enjoying the intimacy.
“I miss this. I miss us.”
I understood what he meant. We had sex the week before and had been flirting ever since.
But what we both longed more for were the long periods of romantic moments when we could luxuriously look deep into each other’s eyes and tell our deepest secrets.
I never consider whether I’m giving my husband enough of that intimacy. I never feel guilty that I don’t cuddle him enough or give him enough hugs.
But because of the societal expectations of a healthy sex life, I wonder if I am “giving him” the correct number of sexually intimate moments. What a sexist notion, but at 48 years old, it’s hard to escape the programming I’ve experienced in a post-feminist America.
Even if I flip the script and think about how much sexual pleasure my husband gives me, I am still assuming that there is a certain amount that means you’re in a “good” marriage.
Married people have more sex than single people. Maybe it’s the easy proximity — but I doubt many married people think they do it enough.
That’s because we tend to equate sexual fulfillment with sexual frequency. But, from my experience, my sexual satisfaction increased with less frequency. Less turns out to be more.
Less frequency doesn’t have to do with lack of attraction, but with lack of time.
With a seven-year-old and 22-year-old still living at home, the opportunities for alone time aren’t frequent.
We get ample time to hang out, talk, and be best friends. So it’s not like we are disconnected. But we don’t have much lead-up to sexually intimate moments, except stealing glances or an enthusiastic hug here and there,
Sex as a 48-year-old is already better for so many reasons: I’m no longer trying to conceive. I’m in perimenopause, so the chances, even if I didn’t struggle with infertility, of conceiving are low.
Separating conception from sex is pretty sexy. I don’t feel the pressure I felt for years, and disappointment isn’t built into the sex act when things don’t work out.
Add in years of learning about each other’s bodies in a more than 20-year marriage — and middle age inherently leads to better sex.
Because our brains are our biggest sex organs, connecting with others outside of the bedroom inevitability turns you on when you are under the covers. But it was only when I accepted that there wasn’t some magical number of times I needed to have sex with my husband to have a good marriage that our sex finally became better because hey, less pressure.
Common advice I see when it comes to sexless marriages is to open up a marriage — which, to me, just opens up a whole other bag of worms.
Maybe the focus on sexless marriages should be on having good sex rather than thinking there’s some imaginary quota that needs to be met. If you had terrific sex once a month, or even less frequently, would you still feel like your marriage is failing?
Of course, there’s the issue of one person wanting sex more often than the other.
Still, if both parties are fairly content and it’s just a season in your marriage where you aren’t as intimate as often, focus on making the most of the intimate moments you have. Because sometimes our notion of ‘enough’ sex has more to do with societal pressure than whether you or your partner is getting enough.
Tonight, I cuddle in my husband’s arms and feel relieved I don’t have to have sex on a nightly basis to be happy in our marriage.
“I miss this, too,” I said in response, lying in the crook of his arm.
But, I recognize this is just one season in a long marriage, and I enjoy each moment for what it is, knowing that sometimes less is more.
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Melissa Miles McCarter has published numerous blog articles, short stories, an anthology, a memoir, a novel, and various nonfiction. Her work has been featured in various publications including HuffPost, Yahoo!, and Salon.